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I'll jump on board the "I was trained as a journalist" train, too. I was
working toward an M.A. in Science journalism (after a B.A. in biology), working
on the U of MN paper (one of the largest dailies in the state), and beginning
to interview for jobs when I had an epiphany of sorts:
1. As Garret stated, journalism, for the most part, does not pay well at
2. The great boondoggle of objectivity is just that--a boondoggle, which
doesn't make journalism bad, but I thought if I was going to write someone
else's opinion, I might as well do it for someone (i.e., private business) who
was upfront about the fact--and PAID better!
Luckily, I fell into technical writing from there. And I discovered that my
education was in no way wasted. Interviewing/relationship building skills were
the biggest plus. When you cover physicians at a research hospital, you learn
to listen politely to someone who's condescending in the extreme without
getting offended, and still get the info you came for. You learn to write to
deadline, i.e., write to the level achievable in the specified amount of time.
As Rick (was it?) said, you learn to take fast notes! And to be organized and
ask intelligent questions. (To me, this is the tough side of technical writing.
The writing is the easy part!)
In any case, I feel lucky to be where I am--it suits me well!
Karla McMaster, technical writer
CTI PET Systems, Inc., Knoxville, TN
mcmaster -at- cti-pet -dot- com